No. 13 South Carolina (6-2, 4-2 SEC) is coming off a disappointing loss to the No. 2 Florida Gators (7-0, 6-0 SEC).
The Gators jumped out to a 21-6 halftime lead due to three first-half turnovers by the Gamecocks. While Florida had only 29 yards in the first half, the turnovers put them in a commanding lead on the way to a blowout win, 44-11. After falling behind in the division race, the Gamecocks turn their attention to the Tennessee Volunteers (3-4, 0-4 SEC) this weekend.
The Gamecocks will look to get back to their ground game after having only 70 yards rushing in their past two games. Junior running back Marcus Lattimore looked to be slowed in the Florida game by a bruised hip he suffered in the LSU game. He had career lows in carries (three) and yards (13).
"I think he's okay now," said head coach Steve Spurrier. "He was probably pretty close to 100 percent last Saturday. Fumbles got us behind. We thought it would be smart to rest him for another day. Rest him for the next battle. He should be ready."
Another question mark for South Carolina is at the quarterback position. After junior quarterback Connor Shaw was benched due to a poor performance against the Gators, Shaw is looking to bounce back. Shaw started out with a 13-1 record in games he started before the team's two consecutive losses.
"Certainly he hasn't performed as well as he was earlier in the year," said Spurrier. "We don't have all the reasons for it. We've had games we've attempted to pass more than we intended to. This is his game. If he skunks it up the first half, he's going to skunk it up the second half. This is his game. Dylan was sick yesterday and didn't show up. I'm sure he'll be okay by the weekend. We'll try to play to Connor's strengths and give him the opportunity to be successful."
Special teams are a major concern after some key fumbles by junior wide receiver Ace Sanders and sophomore wide receiver Damiere Byrd. Senior kicker Adam Yates also missed a field goal in the loss.
"Unfortunately, we worked on ball security before we fumbled them," special teams coach Joe Robinson said. "They happened and you can see on film why they happened. We've got some guys that really want to make plays. They've made some plays, and when they made plays earlier in the year the ball was loose, and that's our fault for not getting that corrected. Ball security is number one. There are fundamentals of ball security that we teach and they were not followed. The ball was too loose. Eventually it's going to cost you and eventually it did cost us."
The defense is as stout as ever, giving up only 16 points per game and 282 yards per game. While Florida did score 44 points, the Gamecocks' defense only truly gave in on one drive, a 59-yard drive to start off the second half. The defense is looking forward to the challenge of taking on Tennessee's receivers.
"The good thing about this game is that our preparations remain the same," secondary coach Grady Brown said. "The same things apply, you have to be able to line up properly and recognize formations."
Kickoff is at 12 p.m. EST on ESPN.